Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Is Where I Talk About My First Classroom Visit

So I just wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the school visit I did yesterday.  My youngest son Logan took a copy of my "Monster Alphabet" book to school, which resulted in his teacher asking me to come and talk to the kids about art and drawing, and graphic design.  Both as they relate to me and as possible careers.

I am not a teacher.  I am not a public speaker.  I am not comfortable in front of crowds of any age.

But I agreed anyway.
I really did want to do it.  I was just very nervous about it.  I thought about what to talk about and how to frame it.  I don't like talking about myself too much, but I do like talking about drawing, so that's where the focus would go.

So I went.
 I talked about drawing and all the things it can accomplish in storytelling and communicating.  I talked about the upsides of working as an illustrator, and the hard work it took to get where I am(and also mentioned that I have a long way to go)  I also gave a drawing lesson about using shapes to draw(see the Angry Birds graphic above).

Throughout the talk, the kids were attentive, enthusiastic, full of questions and comments, wanting to know more, and wanting to relate their drawing experiences to me.  It was one of the most positive experiences I've ever had in this line of work and it made me so glad that I'd agreed to do it.

After doing the talk and reflecting on it, I can see why great teachers love to teach.  No, I'm not equating myself to a teacher, it's not even in the same ballpark.  I can just see that when a teacher is good and can get across to students in a way that makes them respond and interact with them in a positive way, that there's something great there that keeps them in the classroom.  I got all of the good stuff of that experience, but then I left.  It was up to a great teacher to get them back on track and doing Math work again after I left...


Javier Hernandez said...


I'm glad you did this, and really glad that you enjoyed it!

Kids do value insight into art, especially younger kids. I think it's because many of them think that they're not 'as good' as other artists, so anything they can learn that'll help them get better is worth listening to.

As far as being reluctant to talk about oneself, let me offer this. I've spoken to groups for over a decade now, and frankly, it's not 'hard' to talk about myself! The reason being, and the approach I take, is that I share what I've done as a way to let the kids know that if I could do, they can too. I tell them of the fun and joy my art has brought me, but all this started when I doodled at their age, and tried again and again to get better each time.

Just today in my class I told the kids it's okay to fail at the first attempts at a drawing. When we all rode a bike for the first time, we fell, we cried, we got embarrassed...But we got better at it. So sharing whatever success I have is meant to let them know that it's attainable, that they can work hard and put their heart into something and be successful and happy with their art.

(Sorry for making this comment almost as long as your post!)

Phil Rood said...

Nothing to be sorry about Jav, I really appreciate the insight. I tried to focus a lot on the idea of practice and determination too and am using the feedback I got(from the kids, the teacher, and you)to shape future talks(of which I have a couple more lined up). Thanks for the advice Javier